The world is her classroom

If you ever wonder as a teacher if your classroom is the world, then you got to believe that it is possible.

You see her beaming with bright smile, her loveliness that flaunts candidly and her impressive mien that overall equates with “beauty and brain.” This foreign lady from the United States of America who has been acculturated to the Louisian community since October last year, is University of Saint Louis’ English Language (EL) Fellow, Miss Cerise A. Santoro.

 She is known by students as the EL Fellow assigned to USL, by her colleagues as hardworking and a sought-after resource speaker in training and workshops, and to her family, a loving and adventurous daughter.

December 2008 was when Ms. Santoro finished her Associate of Arts Degree in Liberal Arts in Social and Behavioral Sciences at Mount San Antonio College, Walnut, California, USA. She continued her studies finishing Bachelor of Arts in Education and Integrative Studies, Liberal Studies at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona graduating in May 2011. Two years after, and while teaching, she finished her Master of Arts in Education and Integrative Studies: Curriculum and Instruction at the same university.

While pursuing her master’s degree, she taught in public schools in California then became an ESL (English as Second Language) Instructor at Cal Poly English Language Institute (CPELI) in California State Polytechnic University, Pomona (2012-2015) leading several workshops for teachers on second and foreign language pedagogy, methodology, program management, and professional development. She taught to different nationalities.

“I was a teacher of international students from Brazil, Cameroon, China, India, Iran, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Laos, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Syria, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, and Vietnam.”

 Her inspiration to become a teacher emanated from her quest of following the steps of her grandparents who were teachers and international explorers.

“My grandmother, grandfather and great grandmother inspired me to become a teacher. They all would show me postcards from different places. My grandmother suggested I try teaching. I took her advice, and it was the best decision I ever made.”

Embarking her teaching career abroad as an EL Fellow

To expand her teaching career enthused by her grandparents, she went through an arduous application to join the English Language Fellow Program, a program funded by the United States Department of State that sends highly qualified and experienced US educators in the field of Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) abroad to assist US embassies in keeping quality of the English language programs.

Because of her expertise in teacher training and curriculum development, she was accepted in the EL Fellow Program. Her first work overseas is to teach and foster the English pedagogy in University of Saint Louis (USL), Tuguegarao City, until August 2016.

“Through the program, I am privileged to share my professional expertise, hone my skills, and gain international and cultural experience. My goal is to model and demonstrate up-to-date TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) classroom practices that help foster thoughtful and responsible behavior in students and teachers in English.”

She is now working with the School of Education, Arts and Sciences instructing pre-service elementary and secondary teachers and is conducting training and workshops for USL faculty-members.

Not only in USL that she shares her expertise because she is also invited in other schools and institutions to facilitate professional development opportunities for students and teachers.

“My expertise is in Education, Curriculum Design and Instruction specifically in English, and my current role is to support and enhance the professional preparation of pre-service and in-service teachers in the Philippines by providing seminars and workshops.”

Miss Santoro shares her expertise through teacher training and workshops to many teachers and students in the Philippines. As she is currently assigned to USL, she is helping to foster English pedagogy in the University.

“In Luzon and Mindanao, I participated in and organized workshops for the English Access Microscholarship Program (ACCESS) which gives a foundation of English language skills to talented high school students from economically disadvantaged sectors through after-classes intensive sessions. ACCESS gives participants English skills that may lead to better jobs and educational prospects. Participants also gain the ability to compete for or participate in future exchanges and studies in the United States.”

“Another program I facilitated as an EL Fellow is the MOOC Camps (Massive Open Online Courses) which give opportunities to teachers in enhancing their professional development through collaboration with a global community of teachers. The latest MOOC Camps I facilitated are Shaping the Way We Teach English 2 and The Art of Poetry,” she added.

Despite her busy schedule, she still communicates constantly with her family in the US.

“My grandparents were so interested hearing about my students, and it encouraged me to continue my passion and move overseas to learn more about the world. Even today, they are continually motivating me in my teaching career while we communicate with one another through video chat.”

Reaching out to indigenous children of Kayapa

Miss Santoro recently collaborated with Akyat-Nueva Vizcaya, a group formed by four faculty members of Saint Mary’s University (one of the sister CICM schools of USL situated in Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya) for an educational outreach service to the indigenous people of Amelong-Labeng, Kayapa, Nueva Vizcaya conducted last April 9-10, 2016.

“The developing community and the school of Amelong-Labeng takes one day of trekking through the mountains to reach, so it is rarely visited by guests; however, Akyat-Nueva Vizcaya has adopted this marginalized community and regularly goes to the place with an array of projects.”

“I was invited to teach English to the indigenous children at Labeng Primary School. The next project we are eyeing for is to build a library to promote reading literacy for the indigenous people of Kayapa,” she recounted.


Santoro together with the indigenous children of Kayapa and faculty-members of Saint Mary’s University. From a very long mountain trekking, Ms. Santoro played with the kids and bonded with them.

Starting with her travel book project

Confessing that she’s a book vulture, she wants to influence others to also read, “I am a book enthusiast, so in effort to motivate others to read more and promote literacy around the globe, I have started this travel book project.”

“I plan to read one book from every country in the world that was originally written in a native language and was translated into English, or any classic book very much known to the country. The preferred books are ones that tell about the history, culture, or ways of living in the country.”

“With this project, I hope to gain a wider understanding of the whole world. If I can’t travel everywhere, the books will travel for me. My chosen book for the Philippines is of course Noli Me Tangere by Jose Rizal,” showing to the author of this article the book she borrowed from the USL Library with excitement gleaming from her eyes.

“I also want to prove you don’t need money to explore the world. You need to collaborate. Hopefully through networking, utilizing public libraries, and of course the internet, I will be able to fulfill this project. It serves as a personal research project about English and education around the globe.”